Fears over charges to students

SOME TasTAFE courses could cost as much as a university degree under changes proposed by the federal government to introduce a VET Fee-HELP scheme into Tasmania.

It was reported earlier this week that Tasmanian students would remain eligible for subsidies under the loan program already offered to universities, but concerns have been raised that only a small percentage of people are entitled to a subsidy for a diploma or advanced diploma course.

The vast majority of students would be expected to pay the full commercial cost of the course, which could be as high as $29,695 depending on the units of study.

A nursing or visual arts three-year degree at the University of Tasmania would cost about $18,120.

These figures do not include additional materials or textbooks.

According to a draft copy of the TasTAFE VET Fee-HELP Fee Schedule for July 1 to December 31, 2014, obtained by  The Examiner , most courses are listed with a commercial and subsidised course cost, as well as individual unit cost.

A TasTAFE spokeswoman said the document supplied to  The Examiner  was incomplete and not all courses showed both the commercial and subsidised rates.

TasTAFE chief executive Stephen Conway said the subsidised rate of courses would remain in place for now, which equates to $1.98 an hour the student must pay.

He said the rollout from July  was a ``soft launch'' to a small number of students starting mid-year.

``For 2015, discussions are still under way with Skills Tasmania about the potential subsidisation of courses that will be eligible for VET Fee-HELP in Tasmania,'' he said.

``Consequently, we are not able to speculate on the precise fees that will be charged in 2015 or seek to make direct comparisons with individual charges that might be charged in other jurisdictions.''

Mr Conway could not say how many students would be entitled to a subsidy but depending on if a course actually offered one, ``the majority of the local student population will be eligible''.

Possible new TasTAFE course cost examples:

Diploma of library and information systems (Launceston): Commercial $6235, subsidised $832.

Diploma of engineering-technical (statewide):  Commercial $14,504, subsidised  $1600.

Diploma of nursing-enrolled division 2 nursing: Commercial $13,600 (inc. placement fee) subsidised $2847. 

Diploma of laboratory technology (North and South): Commercial  $21,450, subsidised $4000.

Advanced diploma of visual arts (North and South): Commercial $12,133 to $29,695, subsidised $2080.

TasTAFE chief executive Stephen Conway

TasTAFE chief executive Stephen Conway

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